By Jay Barbier
Youth Specialist, Tennessee Baptist Mission Board
The Great Commission has given followers of Jesus an adventure to live by. Jesus commanded His disciples to make disciples as they go! The question many are facing today is how can we do this now? We need to take a serious look at how we can manage to do the work of the Lord in the coming days as we enter new phases from the quarantine. Let’s look at two different ways we can be the church and make disciples during this process.
First, use any and every opportunity you can through online platforms, social media — and over-communicate to youth and their families. The church can reach a larger nonaffiliated audience than ever before. People are stuck at home and so many are looking for something new to do. Netflix and other viewing platforms are being uploaded like crazy. The time is now to put daily devotionals online, resource your people and equip the church to fall deeper in love with the Word.
Give students and parents opportunities to lead in this. Let them share testimonies, preach and teach the Bible. Honestly, most people love to hear real life and how does faith intersect with real life. When students take the lead, their peers will listen. Use this to draw the attention of youth and point them to Jesus.
You will quite possibly have a larger online presence when students own the ministry and make it their own. GenZ-ers are more motivated to invite others to watch, listen or participate in what is going on when they are actively involved and leading. Remember to over-communicate. Be intentional in disciplemaking.
Second, start planning ahead and be active. Take this time to be intentional in administration, planning, and dreaming for the future. This second consideration came to me through a conversation with one of our own Tennessee Baptist youth leaders. As he is considering a transition in ministry, he asked me how he could do youth ministry with all of the recommendations and suggestions the government is putting out.
The important thing we must consider is safety. The governor is asking for social gatherings to stay at 10 or less. How can youth ministry be done this way? I’m glad you asked.
First, consider having grade level or multiple grade level small group fellowships throughout the summer — and beyond — once we are allowed to gather again. In my mind, I think about zooming with about 10-20 parents or small group leaders that will host a small pool party, BBQ, night of games and incorporate training for time for prayer, worship and Bible study.
Use these small group gatherings to get to know the people of your church and teach them to do the work of ministry. Maybe this could lead into evangelism, having houses in neighborhoods host kids from down the block to come and join in! Be intentional. Make disciples as you go about the everyday normalcies of life. Point people to Jesus!
Focusing on these areas of opportunity will keep youth actively involved in ministry and engaged in two great areas of importance for church — fellowship and Bible study. Saturate what you are doing with prayer, the Word of God and relationships. Let me know if I can do anything to help serve you and your ministry. B&R